Just Playing Around

imageI read in the newspaper this week that the Slinky is turning 70! Cool, huh? This iconic toy was invented in nearby Philadelphia by a gentleman by the name of Richard James, an engineer at the Cramp Shipbuilding Company. Apparently, Mr James invented the Slinky quite by accident. He was attempting to devise a spring that would hold sensitive shipboard equipment stable during rough seas when he knocked one of the reject springs off a shelf. It flounced about the floor for a bit and Jim had enough imagination to see an opportunity.

We spent many days playing with Slinkys when I was little and my own children had them too. When I think of them I am hit with dozens of memories of us building ramps and steps out of books just to see what tricks we could get the Slinky to do!

Isn’t it funny that when you think about the toys you played with as a child, it’s not just the item you remember but the wonderful way it made you feel. Life was so exciting when the whole world of your imagination was open to you! My friend Donna and I would spend hours playing Barbies or paper dolls inventing entire lives for them complete with jobs, pets and boyfriends! She had a Barbie Camper so they often went on road trips, usually to see The Monkees in concert. We had a thing for Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork back then. The best Christmas ever was the year I received both Quick Curl Barbie and Mod Hair Ken!! He had stick on facial hair! Hard to beat that.

Dolls were always my favorite things to play with and it wasn’t just Barbie. The 1970s produced a plethora of weird and wonderful dolls.

One that I really loved was Dawn. She and her friends were like mini Barbies with various shoes and outfits. I even had a fashion show stage for her. You basically stuck her little foot in a little vice and then cranked a handle moving a track around the stage. It sent her for a spin than brought her back. Very low tech.


Dawn by Topper Toys (1970).

Then there was Mrs Beasley from Family Affair. Anybody remember her? She talked!

Mrs Beasley by Mattel

Mrs Beasley by Mattel

I also had  Growing Hair Kerry, the doll whose hair expanded out the top of her head then retracted when you pushed her belly button. Nothing weird about that. She had a bunch of outfits too (I’m beginning to think my older sisters were right-I was spoiled!)

Kerry by Ideal (1970)

Kerry by Ideal (1970)

Of course if you wanted a truly weird and disturbing doll it would have been Little Miss No Name, the poor orphan doll with the glued on tear drop. Her box reads, “please take me home and wipe my tear away.” Yikes! Who thought up this one? Not only is this sad little girl  wearing a burlap bag, her eyes make her look like a zombie! Can’t imagine why I wanted her so bad.  I do, however, remember that her tear drop fell off and got lost within the first week. Guess she got her wish. 😌

Little Miss No Name by Hasbro (1965)

Little Miss No Name by Hasbro (1965)

I played with other toys too; wooden blocks, puzzles, the Easy Bake Oven, but the dolls were always my favorite. Whenever I come across one of them now, at a yard sale or antique store (those Mrs Beasleys are very collectible by the way) I get all misty eyed. I miss playing dolls with Miss Dee. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the babies in the family to grow up a bit more.  In the meantime, I can get them all Slinkys!

Tell me about your favorite toy.

FYI..This post has been added to the Leisure Link curtsey of Perspectives On. Hop over and check out the other blogs!


20 thoughts on “Just Playing Around

  1. Nancy, this sure brought back memories. I too played with blocks for hours on end, preferred teddy bears/stuffed animals (called them my “kids”) over dolls though I did get into Barbies and had a similar doll named Tammy who was substantially taller than Barbie – maybe I related to her since I was always the tallest girl in school from kindegarten on. We also loved board games and playing cards. Oh and yes, we certainly had slinkys – never knew the history! Thanks for the memories.

  2. this post took me back! I love the video! It is funny as you said it is the feeling not really the item! we also played barbies and had quite elaborate lives going for them!! love those times!

  3. I loved Barbie dolls. I also had the Dawn dolls. One of my favorite Christmases was when I got both the Malibu Barbie doll (she was tan, she could twist at the waist, AND had bendable legs. Must easier to get her to ride our toy horses that way!) and the Barbie Country Camper! Anyone remember Francy? She was a friend of Barbie and she had real eyelashes! I also had Skipper, too. Did you have the carry case for your Barbie? They were like little suitcases. On the inside was a space divided off to lay your Barbie in, and next to that a large space to put all her clothes, for easy carry along purposes. We used to open those cases out, like a book, and stand them on top of one another to create multi level homes for the Barbies. Hey, when you don’t have a Barbie home you improvise. 😉 I had a Mrs. Beasley doll! And a Buffy doll. Sadly, I no longer have either one. Loved slinkies, and I also loved playing with matchbox cars, and bigger trucks, as well as race car sets, and darts. (I had an older brother). 🙂 Oh, I could go on and on about toys and games. Love the memories this blog evoked!

    • I’m so glad it stirred up some good memories! I had fun thinking about it too. I most definitely had Barbie cases and we made house out of them just like you. My friend had the camper and my older sisters handed down this really cool Barbie Boutique that was made of cardboard (before everything was plastic). I wish I still had that! It would be a real collectable. I didn’t have a horse but she sound cool. I did have a Malibu Barbie and Ken and a zillion outfits!! The shoes were always my favorites. Thanks so much for commenting!

  4. I had Barbies but I don’t actually remember playing with them. The only reason I know I had them is because I still have them in a plastic bag with their clothes. Actually, I think there may only be one of them. I also had Skipper.
    What I do remember is having the Sunshine Family dolls. I had the main family, their grandparents and a dark-skinned family as well. And they were more realistically shaped. My mother was a kindergarten teacher so I guess she was conscious of the messages. I also remember lots of Lego, Matchbox cars, puzzles (do you remember Dudley Do-Right? I had a puzzle of him) and loads and loads of books.
    But the toy that has always stuck in my mind is my 10-in-1 Electronics kit I got for Christmas when I was about 10. I think, even then, I knew that this was an unusual toy for a girl and I remember looking at my mother quizzically wondering if it had been given to me by mistake and was meant for my brother. But it was indeed mine. I loved it. Interestingly, perhaps, I went on to study Physics at university. By the way, I still have it. 🙂

  5. I was definitely not a doll person. I had a Cabbage Patch Kid and a Raggedy Ann given to me by well-meaning relatives, but other than squishing their faces in when I was bored, I never gave them a second glance. I was into stuffed animals and toy cars and Lego. I always wanted a Slinky, but for whatever reason we just never got one.

    Whenever we would visit my grandmother, she always got a kick out of trying to get me to play with one of my mother’s old dolls. “Don’t you want to play with this pretty doll?” “NO!” “Are you sure? She likes you, I think I heard her say she wants to give you a hug.” “NO!” Holding back her laughter, she would try a few more times and then finally relent and bring out the raccoon plushie she kept in a cupboard for me.

    • That doll’s feeling must have been terribly hurt! ☺️ My oldest niece was the same way. I was only 14 when she was born and I was always trying to get her interested in my old Barbies. Now she has a two year old who loves princess dolls! Maybe it skips a generation?

  6. Do you remember Little kiddles? They were miniature dolls, and I loved them! I also had a Chatty Cathy I liked a lot. Great post! We also played for hours with our slinkies!

    • I don’t remember the first ones but we had a Chatty Kathy. She belonged originally to my sisters. By the time I got her she was speaking some alien language! Guess they were still working on that technology. 😊

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